Stadium plans come to a halt

By Tyler Mitchell

After a busy summer, plans for the stadium and athletic complex recently hit a stalemateafter the city council chose to uphold Davenport Mayor Gluba’s veto 6-4, falling one vote shortof the 70 percent needed to override. A city-wide controversy, the council’s decision has leftstadium plans in a state of purgatory as university leaders discuss how to move forward.

“We’re really in a state of limbo,” said Vice President of Finance Michael Poster.

Although in charge of finance, Poster also handles the university’s physical plant, meaning the stadium project falls beneath his belt.

“Knowing that we couldn’t overturn the veto, we decidedto take a step back and reassess where we’re at.”

The proposed stadium and sports complex has been a hot topic since its initial proposal last spring. Area residents noticed yard signs opposing the stadium even before it was actually proposed, the calm before the storm that would pour down later that June. From water issues to noise complaints, to residential safety and increased crime, the university’s neighbors expressed a multitude of different concerns.

Despite these concerns, the city council approved the stadium plans on July 9, passing them along to Mayor Gluba for his signature of approval. However, on July 16, Mayor Gluba chose to veto the stadium plans instead.

“In my judgment, the presence of a spectator football stadium, such as St. Ambrose proposes to build, would likely so disrupt the quality of life in these desirable neighborhoods,” said Gluba in his veto message.

He went on to add, “It would, over time, result in the gradual deterioration and devaluation of these homes in which residents have invested a lifetimes’ worth of care and money.”

Gluba pointed out a number of factors in his statement that would apparently lead to such deterioration in value. Poster, however, does not agree with the Mayor’s conclusions, believing that home values would stay the same if not increase as a result of the stadium’s construction.

“Throughout this process we looked at property tax values around such areas as Bettendorf High School and Pleasant Valley High School. We could see where that was not the case. Property values around these areas increased at the same rates as other residential areas in the city of Bettendorf,” Poster said.

According to Poster, a number of appraisers and relators pointed out that there was no evidence to indicate that property values would decrease because of the presence of a stadium.

Yet it was on this point that Mayor Gluba chose to veto.

Compared to initial plans, St. Ambrose made a number of changes to address neighbor concerns. Originally proposed to seat 5000, this number was cut in half to 2500. Furthermore, Poster states that the stadium was moved as far back as possible within the St. Vincent’s property as to increase the distance between the complex and the neighborhood. He went on to add that changes were made in lighting and parking to match the neighbors’ desires.

Another concern of both neighbors and Mayor Gluba is the narrowness of Central Park Avenue. According to Gluba, constructing the stadium at the St. Vincent location would create a dangerous situation for both pedestrians and drivers.

“Central Park Avenue is extremely narrow (only thirty-six feet wide) with numerous telephone poles only six inches from the curb. The line of sight at the only entrance to the proposed stadium is dangerously short, and creates a hazardous situation,” Gluba said in his July statement.

He also stated, “Students walking to and from athletic events must cross Central Park Avenue, a congested, four lane street with no stop light/crosswalk. With the dangerously short line of sight, it is not safe for students, especially after an event where alcohol may have been consumed.”

Poster does not agree that the busyness of Central Park Avenue would be an issue. According to him, Central Park Avenue would be more congested with traffic when students are arriving and departing from Assumption High School than on a normal Friday night or Saturday afternoon during game time.

Ambrose now has two options moving forward: seek out a different location for its complex, an idea that Gluba would support as stated in his July statement, or build with Assumption High School.

According to Poster, K-12 facilities such as Assumption are permitted by state law to build on adjacent owned property without city zoning approval. Therefore, as many are currently speculating, Ambrose does have the option of selling the land to Assumption and building itsstadium contrary to what Gluba or the city council might believe.

As for alternative locations, Poster says there are none.

“The reality is a lot of these other options are still close to residential areas. We would simply have the same issues but with different neighbors,” Poster said.

Poster also commented on a possible riverfront location for the stadium. It was concluded, however, that flooding would be a primary issue if the stadium were to be constructed in such a location.

Nevertheless, as planning continues and proposals are made, discontent neighbors will likely remain so if the complex is constructed at the St. Vincent’s location.

“We think athletic complexes are positive places,” Poster said. “We think that there are things that probably cause issues in neighborhoods, and kids playing sports isn’t one of them.We actually feel that if we are successful in getting this built, it will be a great addition to theneighborhood.”

When asked to comment specifically for this article, Gluba declined.

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